Fred Townsend is the husband of Beth Townsend, the publisher of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. His 45-year career in marketing is a eclectic collection of work in everything from political campaign consultant to television producer and creative advertising positions at two Fortune 500 companies.
MAN UP, By Fred Townsend
There is something about Solomon that fascinates me. Blessed directly by God as the smartest and wisest king ever. Riches beyond the imagination! Author of three books of the Bible–even after 3,000 years, Proverbs is the rulebook for sound decision-making. But with all that going for him, Solomon’s story didn’t end well.
Solomon’s pedigree was awesome. Paul recounts that legacy in Acts 22:13: “After removing Saul, He made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Get that? Solomon’s daddy was not just a man after God’s own heart, but the Almighty himself testified to it!!! “What a heritage it would be if a prophet proclaimed to a group of believers, my son Rhett amongst them, that God told him: “I have found Fred son of Bernard, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”
Wouldn’t we all want our legacy to be just that? After all, being a man after God’s own heart is the only truly meaningful goal in life! If we do everything God wants us to do, we could claim a place in the roll call of the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). Can any of us think that God knows it about us? So, why do we fall so far short of this standard? More importantly, why accept lesser goals for ourselves? In other words, what is the legacy we leave for our sons and daughters if it is not to be a man after God’s own heart?
The very first proverb is about knowledge: “Respect and obey the Lord! This is the beginning of knowledge. Only a fool rejects wisdom and good advice.” (Proverbs 1:7 NIV). Solomon wrote it. Obviously, he knew its importance. Like his father, Solomon was hard-wired to the Creator of the Universe. God picked David to lead His chosen people. After David’s death, God appeared to young Solomon. 2 Chronicles 1 tells the story. God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Pretty open-ended opportunity! Many of us — maybe most of us — would pick riches! But Solomon responded to this question with the answer “discernment.” Pretty self-effacing for a fifteen year old to pick wisdom over wealth, since God offered an open checkbook. God was so pleased with the answer that he told Solomon (2 Chronicles 1:12 NIV), “therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” Solomon got off to a bang-up start with the Creator.
“Solomon knew stuff! So much stuff that he was famous, and people from came from everywhere to listen to him talk about anything and everything. Since it was Solomon who said, “Respect and obey the Lord! This is the beginning of knowledge. Only a fool rejects wisdom and good advice,” he knew that without revering God knowledge was worthless. And without respect for God, there was no wisdom. With both that understanding and with David’s legacy, how then did Solomon drift from his mooring?
Despite despicable acts surrounding the illicit relationship with Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, King David never put any god before the God of Israel. Therefore, God forgave even David’s most egregious sins. But unlike his father, Solomon placed the world’s gods on equal footing with the one true God. Narcissism did him in. Solomon was an ancient version of the rock star. The world was his oyster, with the trappings of wealth and legions of hangers-on. Everyday was a party with his 700 wives and 300 concubines. Some of the wives and a few girlfriends seduced the king into building temples to their gods, and he bowed down to their idols. The son of the man after God’s own heart, then himself directly blessed, chose to disobey and disrespect the Creator. A foundation of knowledge was washed away. All that wisdom was squandered by the acts of a fool. Predictably his life took a turn for the worse. “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.” (1 Kings 11:9 NIV).
If the only worthwhile goal in life is to be a man after God’s own heart, then why do we fall short? And why do we accept lesser goals?” In Ecclesiastes 1:9, Solomon wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. People are the same flawed beings now as the people in ancient times. Many, including Christians, are seduced into the worship of the false gods of fame, sex and money or envy of those who have it. Even believers get caught in the conundrum of what God says versus what the world says. Like Solomon, we may compromise what we know is right, choose wrong and directly disrespect and disobey God.
The secular worldview is that “right and wrong” are relative. We can fall into that trap! Frankly, the example we have set for the next generation falls short of what God expects, which contributes significantly to an epidemic rejection of belief by millennials who don’t see righteousness in our generation. We live in an abundant, affluent nation, with easy access to education and an unfettered flow-of-information. Yet for far too many, knowledge is not about respect and obedience for God, but the means to selfishly advance themselves by impressing others. Sadly, we often accept lesser goals than living righteously, simply because it’s the easy way out. We’d rather make God angry than face rejection from friends and acquaintances. Vanity can steal our souls just as it did with Solomon. It’s time to man-up. Go after God’s own heart!
The next generation and the one that follows must see the David in us; not the Solomon.